With 12 new­com­ers, the mound will be the area that shapes the sea­son

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - HAWAII BASEBALL PREVIEW -

The mound will be a test­ing ground early in the sea­son. Of the 17 pitch­ers on the ros­ter, only five pitched for the Rain­bow War­riors last sea­son.

“Every­thing starts on the mound,” said coach Mike Tra­passo, who con­ceded that it might take the first 20 games to es­tab­lish spe­cific pitch­ing roles. “Ob­vi­ously, that’s the ques­tion mark, be­cause (70) per­cent of it is untested.”

Brendan Hor­nung, the lone re­turn­ing start­ing pitcher, is set to pitch the opener against North Carolina State. Hor­nung has a four-pitch menu, with a bit­ing split­ter thrown with the same mo­tion used for his 90-mph fast­ball, change-up and curve­ball. Hor­nung strug­gled with his con­trol through the first four weeks of spring train­ing when — bo­ing! — a me­chan­i­cal tune-up dur­ing last Satur­day’s in­trasquad scrim­mage led to his best two in­nings.

“I was fi­nally con­sis­tent and throw­ing strikes,” said Hor­nung, who upped his pitch count to 97.

Now Hor­nung is work­ing on his take-a-deep-breath fo­cus. “He’s one of those guys you ac­tu­ally have to get to back off,” Tra­passo said. “With him, he strug­gles when he’s over-throw­ing.”

Hor­nung said: “I get too com­pet­i­tive when I try to throw the best pitch ev­ery pitch.” Do­minic DeMiero, a three-pitch lefty, has so­lid­i­fied the No. 2 spot. Three weeks ago, DeMiero un­der­went a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure in Min­nesota. He is fully healthy and throw­ing his slider with ac­cu­racy and con­fi­dence. Two swing pitch­ers — Jackson Rees and Matt Richardson — are con­sid­er­a­tions for the third spot in the ro­ta­tion or two-in­ning re­lief. Rees, who is 6 feet 5, has a unique over-the-top mo­tion that adds un­pre­dictabil­ity to his cut­ter. “Some­times it runs into (the right-handed bat­ter), some­times it’ll cut like a slider,” Rees said. “Some­times it doesn’t spin. It’s al­most like it has a mind of its own.”

Neil Uskali is back in top form after los­ing 11 pounds be­cause of a stom­ach ailment a cou­ple of weeks ago. He is a can­di­date for a start­ing role. Dy­lan Thomas, who red­shirted last year, has a 91 mph fast­ball that is the foun­da­tion of a power slider. “To be a back-end-of-a-bullpen pitcher, you need an out pitch, and his power slider is an out pitch,” Tra­passo said.

Colin Ash­worth has good con­trol and ma­tu­rity. He at­tended two ju­nior col­leges be­fore trans­fer­ring to UH in Au­gust. Pa­trick Martin, who had more walks (16) than strike­outs (13) last year, ap­pears to have re­solved his aim is­sues. Isaac Friesen is work­ing on a knuck­le­ball with mixed ef­fec­tive­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.